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Local seniors embark on a cross country adventure

By Paula Walter
A group of seniors from Johnson County, Boone and Elizabethton recently embarked on an 11-day journey that took them across the United States, from Tennessee to Sioux Falls, South Dakota with plenty of stops in-between. Reservations for the trip, coordinated by Sue Shupe, quickly filled to capacity as the word spread another adventure was about to begin. “We had a waiting list for this trip,” she said.
This isn’t the first time Shupe has organized a trip with Diamond Tours. There have been several other bus tours she previously coordinated including St. Augustine, Florida; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Branson, Missouri; Key West, Florida and Mackinaw Island, Michigan “We have fun on the bus,” Shupe said. “It’s just one big family.” The limit on each of the trips is 50. The trips have become so popular that news of an upcoming adventure spreads quickly.
According to Shupe, the time passes quickly as the passengers keep busy as they cruise across the country. “We do a lot of activities on the bus,” she said. “We play games, watch movie and tell clean jokes.” Shupe explained you do not have to be considered a senior to join in on the fun. Most of the travelers were between 60 to 80 years old. “One lady from Elizabethton was 88,” she said.
The days are long from start to finish. The trip to South Dakota was a 10-hour drive for three days with stops every two hours for breaks. The trips are all-inclusive and not only include the transportation there and back, but on this last trip 19 meals were provided, along with stays at nice hotels and a tip for the driver.
Each morning they hit the floor running and with breakfast behind them, they are on the road at 8:30, ready to travel and take in the sights and sounds. The first night of their trip they stayed in Cincinnati, Ohio before heading out the next morning to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, Indiana. The museum collects and preserves Western and Native American art, along with cultural objects. The travelers were back on the road and stopped for the night in North Liberty, Iowa before they were back on the trail with their sights on Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Along the way, the group visited Wall Drug, a shopping mall that includes both restaurants and stores. They stopped for the night in Sturgis, South Dakota, famous for one of the largest motorcycle gatherings in the world. The event occurs the first week of August every year. They had a short stop at the Borglum Historical Center in Keystone, South Dakota before arriving at Mount Rushmore. Set in the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore is a sculpture of the heads of four presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln that were carved into the granite.